If you work for one of our MHCC member organisations, you are encouraged to apply for a CMHDARN Innovation and Evaluation grant to develop innovative new projects in the community-managed and non-government mental health and alcohol and other drugs sectors.
CMHDARN has the pleasure of announcing the recipient of the Innovation and Evaluation Grant 2022-2023 of $20,000 is Youth Solutions in partnership with Stride and University of Wollongong. Their project, ‘What is recovery? And how do we get there? A co-production project with young people with a lived experience of substance use and mental health concerns’ will engage young people with lived experience of substance use and/or mental health concerns, along with parents and carers, to understand what recovery means for them, to gain a better understanding of barriers they may face accessing recovery options, the accessibility of such options, and a better perspective of the issues surrounding recovery. The researchers are keen to engage in co-production research, and hope that this project may lead to new insights and innovations in service provision and potential community oriented solutions.
The Behind the Scenes Project run by Flourish Australia has completed interviews with people who identify as have co-occurring mental health and alcohol use needs. The stories and experiences shared during the interviews highlight the shared experience and also revealed varied perceptions and experiences of alcohol use and effective non-clinical supports. The Behind the Scenes Project has led to a deepening of knowledge that we did not previously have in relation to the experiences of people with a lived experience of mental health and alcohol use needs. To hear the story, from the beginning, from the persons perspective has widened our knowledge of how unique the journey of alcohol use can be for many, and the deceptive nature of alcohol and alcohol use. The suggestions that people made as to the different supports and strategies that they found useful or were missing has opened up a discussion about how we have been providing support and where we can improve.
The major benefit of the project has been to reveal the nuances of experience that impact what and how services and supports need to be designed and offered. This has helped us to understand how we can tailor the program to recognises the uniqueness and subtleties of experience for each individual, improve communication and connection with the people who have alcohol use needs whom we support and work alongside. The project has also been a truly co-designed piece of work and has provided a practical opportunity for the Research Advisors to apply their skills and develop their research knowledge and capacity that can be transferred and implemented in future projects. Flourish Australia’s Community Research Advisory Committee, Community Advisory Council and Evaluation and Research Team have all worked together to share knowledge and expertise that has led to increased research capacity and skills. The project has created opportunities to research the lived experience of co-occurring mental health and alcohol use needs and understand how Flourish Australia can deliver more tailored and effective alcohol use supports and services. The project has been able to establish 3 foundational values for the new service approach and 5 five overarching principles that bring together the themes discussed and will form the strategic framework for Flourish Australia Co-occurring Mental Health and Alcohol use strategy.
As a result of this research, has new evidence been integrated into the service delivery models? If so, how?
Yes, we believe that the voice of people who have co-occurring mental health and alcohol use needs has deepened our understanding of the perceived origins of alcohol use and importantly, what people need, outside the clinical support area to understand their relationship with alcohol and make positive changes. The program of services and supports for an alcohol related service that will evolve from this will highlight the value of Peer Work in this space, in particular from those Peer Workers who have a lived experience of alcohol use, staff training in understanding and recognising when alcohol use may be a concern, creating safety in the support relationship to share and explore alcohol use needs and the role of storytelling in the service and support relationship have been key outcomes.
Through the CMHDARN grant, SDECC identified a tool that measures resilience and family functioning (hardiness) across the domains of commitment, challenge and control which map well to the intended outcomes of our work with families. We have demonstrated that the tool is easy to administer from a clinicians perspective and easy to understand and complete for both young people and parents. Organisational culture ( team feedback) has benefitted from better incorporating our strengths based philosophy within outcome measurement and feedback informed treatment, as opposed to some of the other tools that are more measures of distress e.g. DASS 21. Very early data indicates that the tool will support us in demonstrating that our model can effectively address co-occurring presentations through building on protective factors at the individual and family level.
This project provided a great support in enabling SDECC to employ a Research Assistant that brought new complementary skills to the organisation and really enabled SDECC to successfully deliver this project. The project has further fuelled enthusiasm amongst the team to participate in further practice based research.
“Thank you so much for your support this grant and the support that went with it has really supported SDECC not only in the successful delivery of this project but in building a research framework and appetite for practice based research in the organisation and getting the buy in from our board for further research efforts as we could demonstrate our ability to be involved with research despite our small size.”